Michigan’s Republican candidates for U.S. Senate are working to woo fiscal conservatives ahead of Tuesday’s primary election.
The latest pitch: All three GOP candidates said they would support making it tougher to raise taxes in Michigan by requiring a two-thirds vote of the state Legislature. It’s the essence of a proposed constitutional amendment that appears headed toward Michigan’s November ballot.
The issue came up during a debate this week between the three Republicans seeking to challenge Democratic U.S. Senate Debbie Stabenow in November. The Republican candidates are Cornerstone Schools co-founder Clark Durant, former Kent County probate judge Randy Hekman and former U.S. congressman Pete Hoekstra.
“Off the Record” public television host and MLive.com political columnist Tim Skubick asked each Republican candidate if they would support requiring a two-thirds vote in the Michigan Legislature to raise taxes.
Hoekstra: “I’d support a super majority not only at the state Legislature, I would support a super majority at the federal level to raise taxes and to raise spending.”
Durant: “I think absolutely you should have a two-thirds vote on taxes. … People are overtaxed. The government has overtaxed us. We need to be reducing taxes, not just holding them the same.”
Hekman: “I would support that, for sure, both state and federal.”
Not all Republicans have agreed. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, for example, has said the current system of majority rule generally works well.
An opposition group has formed against the ballot proposal. Members of Defend Michigan Democracy include the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, the Michigan League for Human Services and the Michigan Education Association. Opponents say the plan would lead to gridlock and cripple the ability to support public services because a minority of lawmakers could block tax policies supported by a majority.
The proposal is supported by the Michigan Alliance for Prosperity. The proposal would require two-thirds majority support of both the House and Senate to approve a state tax increase. If the Legislature can’t get a two-thirds vote, a tax increase proposal could be put on a ballot for voters to decide.
Supporters say the measure would provide a more stable tax structure by requiring true consensus of the public and elected leaders on tax issues. They say that would make Michigan a more attractive place to do business and could help the state avoid job loss to neighboring states with lower tax rates.
Email Tim Martin at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TimMartinMI